Kids ask for small things

Published: November 27, 2005 | 2839th good news item since 2003

The Fremont Parent-Teacher Association’s Giving Tree is continuing its tradition of making Christmas dreams come true for those in need. The program, designed to help needy families in Fremont with Christmas wishes for their children, began between 12 and 14 years ago, according to Kathy Arsenault, a Giving Tree organizer.

“The program allows any resident in need to contact us with three specific wishes for each child in their home,” Arsenault said. “We try not to exceed an amount of $30 per child, and we also provide winter clothing such as jackets, snow pants, boots, hats and mittens.” [The Light of Christmas]

Arsenault said other groups such as the Cub Scouts collect smaller items for stocking stuffers for each family as well.

“Anyone can donate,” Arsenault said. “Some people call and ask to sponsor a child, or sponsor a family, or they can buy one specific wish for a child. Some people donate money or gift cards. But we get an excellent response, and we’ve always been able to provide all the wishes children have.”

Arsenault said they assisted about 36 kids last year. There are already about 15 on the list this year. The Giving Tree works in conjunction with the Fremont Food Pantry by providing a holiday gift basket with a complete holiday meal also, including a full day of meals for the days before and after the holiday.

“We see such an outpouring from the community,” Arsenault said. “People are so generous and kind. I’ve come outside to find turkeys sitting on my doorstep from people who want to help.”

Arsenault said the purpose of the programs is to provide relief for those struggling, and they do not discriminate.

“We don’t only help people on welfare,” she said. “These days, you could have a job one minute and lose it the next. We want to make the holidays brighter for anyone regardless of their situation or the size of the house they live in.” [The Working Poor : Invisible in America]

Both the Fremont Food Pantry and the Giving Tree program are composed of volunteers, and more are always welcome, Arsenault said. Volunteers help with shopping, wrapping and other tasks.

“You’d be surprised at what the kids ask for,” she said. “Some teens just want their hair cut at a salon. One little boy wanted a McDonald’s gift certificate to take his mom out for a meal. They don’t ask for big, extraordinary presents. It’s really only items they want or need.”

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